DUBLIN: Leinster captain Isa Nacewa and hooker Richardt Strauss, pivotal members of the Irish team’s European Rugby Champions Cup success, are to retire at the end of the season, head coach Leo Cullen announced on Tuesday.
Nacewa, 35, and South Africa-born Strauss, 32, will hope they bow out with a fourth and third European Rugby Champions Cup winners’ medal respectively to their credit.
Leinster play French side Racing 92 in the Spanish city of Bilbao on May 12.
Fijian Nacewa will go down as one of Leinster’s all-time great players during his two spells there (2008-13 then from 2015 after coming out of retirement), the New Zealand-born utility back scoring over 700 points including 47 tries in his 182 appearances.
Strauss has been at Leinster since 2009, turning out over 150 times for them.
He won 17 caps for his adopted country of Ireland, making his debut in 2012 against South Africa. His cousin Adriaan Strauss lined up in the Springboks’ front row.
“It is hard to articulate the impact that both Isa and Richardt have had on this club since their arrival,” Cullen said in a statement on the Leinster website.
“Warriors on the pitch and wonderful men off it, they are, in my opinion, two of the best players to have ever worn the blue jersey.”
“Their impact on this group of players will be felt for years to come.”
Nacewa and Strauss join a third Leinster stalwart in hanging up their boots, the 95-cap former Ireland number 8 Jamie Heaslip. Heaslip retired with immediate effect in February because of a nagging back injury.